Drawing comparisons has become a favorite activity for many in the soccer world during this break from live play.
Maurice Edu got into the act on BSI: The Podcast, explaining to Benny Feilhaber, Sal Zizzo and Ike Opara the difference in the US men’s national team from the 2010 World Cup team he was on and today’s version.
Edu, who closely follows the current squad as a television analyst, was one of the younger players on the 2010 team that won its group before a Round of 16 defeat to Ghana in South Africa.
That team was well established with veterans like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu.
“There was legitimately and realistically nine to 10 spots already inked in and there were six to seven guys coming into camp hoping to maybe take that last starting spot or you’re hoping to come off the bench,” he said.
Edu said players from the 2008 Olympics team, including himself, Stuart Holden, Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan made the jump into the national team “in small bundles” and learned from the veteran players, who set the tone.
“They basically trained us and groomed us to be national team players,” Edu said. “It didn’t just happen overnight. It took a few camps before they really got you in line. Straight from game one you felt, wow this is the national team, this is an honor, this is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly or taken for granted.”
And while Edu was quick to point out he doesn’t think the current young squad takes their spots for granted, he said they are in a “unique situation” because they’ve all come up together without many established older players to guide them.
“Now, you graduated how many young players straight to the first team and the expectation is for them to come in and be impactful straight from the get-go and assume leadership roles straight from the beginning which is a daunting challenge because these are kids,” Edu said. “They’re all young players.”
However, Edu has belief in the team and is interested in seeing the dynamic when Tyler Adams is back in the fold.
“Tyler, for me, is the leader of that group. He’s captain material from the way he plays, but also he has the respect of his peers,” Edu said. “I think everyone within that group looks up to him. I’m excited to see when he’s finally back on that team what that team looks like then.”
But as far as comparing this team to 2010 or other squads? Edu doesn’t think that’s fair.
“The reality is they’re not going to be the 2010 team, they’re not going to be the 2002 team, they’re going to be their own team and they have to form their own identity,” Edu said. “They have to create that, come together as one, ignore all the outside noise and focus on what that group is within.”